Two goals in an extraordinary five minute spell from Arturo Lupoli pulled the Canaries back from near-certain defeat in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Ninian Park this afternoon.
Having conceded a goal in the first three minutes and then seen Jamie Cureton drift a horrible penalty wide five minues later, the travelling City faithful would have been forgiven for starting the long journey home when Ross McCormack bagged his second of the afternoon from the spot in the 76th minute.
Two-goals to the good and with the Canaries offering all their familiar short-comings in front of goal, on came the 21-year-old Italian and within three minutes of his arrival, he turned the contest completely on its head with two goals in five minutes to send a new wave of belief coursing through Norwich's veins.
They were gone; dead and buried. Five minutes later and it was the Bluebirds faithful heading for the exits early. Three points and a 2-0 lead ripped from their grasp by Lupoli.
As this afternoon's contest kicked-off, so any thoughts that Roeder might try to shore things up and go all 4-5-1 on everyone with Russell's return to the starting line-up were swiftly dismissed as the stand-in striker duly took up his position alongside Jamie Cureton.
Likewise any thoughts that the Canaries were going to be in for any easy afternoon in the depths of South Wales were swiftly dismissed when McCormack blasted the Bluebirds into a third minute lead.
Stefan Defanovic looked the guilty party as he missed the ball completely and enabled McCormack to spring clear through the inside-right channel. Signed from Motherwell in the summer, the Bluebirds striker duly endeared himself further to the Ninian faithful by stepping inside onto his left-foot and – as John Kennedy struggled to slam the door shut – smacked a smart shot beyond David Marshall and inside the keeper's left-hand post.
Cardiff's lead was little more than five minutes old before the Canaries were handed a gilt-edged chance to level – which, needless to say, they duly missed.
Matty Pattison clipped the ball inside Joe Ledley in the bottom left-hand corner of the Bluebirds' box and, having invited the Cardiff winger to step across him, Ledley duly obliged and sent the South African tumbling to the ground.
Referee Taylor had no hesitation at pointing to the spot – alas Cureton had every hesitation from it as he sent a horrible, low bobbler scuttling away and beyond Tom Heaton's right-hand post. A goal conceded and a penalty missed within the first eight minutes of the contest – for the hardy, 400 who had braved the Bank Holiday traffic to make the trip to South Wales, their afternoon wasn't exactly off to a flier.
Quite the reverse, in fact. Indeed, given the contrast in their confidence levels, you could only wonder why the ball wasn't thrown Russell's way as the one player with any degree of conviction or belief in front of goal was simply invited to smash his second of the week home.
Instead, Cureton's belief will have taken another hammering as Norwich kissed yet another golden opportunity to fire their season into life good-bye.
Certainly as the first-half progressed, the Canaries barely got a glimpse of Heaton's goal again. Russell broke from deep in his own half only to find his options narrowing with every passing yard – Cureton bringing the move to a sudden end when he was caught offside – while the one time that Ryan Bertrand found himself in the final third, his cross was too high and too deep for anyone in a yellow shirt to reach.
Little surprise to find a bristling Roeder making an early appearance on the touchline; his best-laid plans going rapidly astray.
Pattison provided Norwich's best moment thus far with a 28th minute, dipping effort that Heaton almost saw squirm beneath him tight in front of his near-post. Russell was persuading Roger Johnson into committing the odd foul, but with that penalty miss appearing to weigh heavily on Cureton's shoulders the visitors were struggling to find a way back into the contest.
They weren't, in fairness, being wholly over-run; Kennedy continued to look the best arrival of the summer. It's just whenever the ball arrived where it mattered – within 25 yards of the opposition goal – Norwich ran out of both ideas and invention. Let alone the physical strength to prise the likes of Johnson and Purse apart.
And it could have been worse. Two minutes before the interval and Darcy Blake's right-wing cross was flicked on by Ledley only for Jay Bothroyd to just miss out on stabbing the ball home.
The break brought one change for the visitors as Lee Croft replaced a largely anonymous Wes Hoolahan; for the record, Croft started the second period on his unfavoured left; Pattison continued on his unfavoured right.
It did little to alter the overall scheme of things as the home side forced more by way of early half-chances.
In fact, the early honours Norwich-wise belonged to their long-suffering away supporters who were more than vocally holding their own – no mean feat given that they were being given precious little to shout about by their Saturday afternoon heroes. Heaton still had a save to make. That said – goal apart – Marshall had barely touched the ball either.
Come the hour-mark and Roeder turned to Koroma in a bid to add some kind of spark to proceedings as Messrs Croft and Pattison finally swapped flanks. For the luckless Cureton, it had been a long and difficult afternoon in South Wales as he jogged off towards the dug-out.
Pattison almost reaped an immediate reward for his switch; drifting a fine, right-foot curler just away from the far post after Koroma made his presence felt on the edge of the Bluebirds box.
Two minutes later and it was all too little, too late as Cardiff doubled their advantage – McCormack stroking home a 66th minute penalty for their second. Three Championship games, three penalties – this time it looked as if it was the wholly unfortunate Clingan who conceded the spot-kick as McCormack wriggled into the Canary box.
Norwich's response was bright enough – Johnson clearing another decent Pattison drive with Heaton seemingly well beaten. But it was little more than a straw to cling to as City's season found itself stuck in the same, painful groove.
Whether Lupoli could make any impression in the game's final 20-odd minutes remained to be seen. He could – as he proved after just three minutes.
Croft's low shot from the edge of the box bobbled the unmarked Italian's way. With Cardiff – to a man – waiting for the far linesman's flag to flutter, Lupoli calmly bagged his first competitive goal for 15 months with a right foot shot that looped slightly awkwardly inside Heaton's left-hand post.
Still Cardiff waited for a flag; still it never came. Norwich were suddenly back in the game as Lupoli swept a second effort just wide moments later.
He was merely warming up. Nine minutes from the end and as Croft's low, right-wing cross found the on-loan Fiorentina man stooping little more than two-feet off the ground to direct the sweetest of headers inside Heaton's right-hand post.
His fearsome celebrations as he raced to the dug-out were of Stuart Pearce proportions as all manner of demons were released.
Even then Norwich weren't out of the woods as Pattison needed to head the ball off the goal-line after a fierce, Darren Purse drive looked odds-on to deliver the winner as the game exploded into life.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Heaton; Blake, Purse, Johnson, Kennedy; Ledley, Scimeca, McPhail, Parry; Bothroyd (Thompson, 75 mins), McCormack (Whittingham, 67 mins). Subs (not used): Enckelman, Gyepes, Comminges.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Omosuzi, Bertrand, Kennedy (Comming, Stefanovic; Pattison, Fotheringham, Clingan (Lupoli, 73 mins), Hoolahan (Croft, 45 mins); Russell, Cureton (Koroma, 61 mins). Subs (not used): Nelson, Shackell.
Man of the Match: John Kennedy.